Saltie owner charged with polluting Great Lakes

After a drawn out  investigation, a six-week detainment in Duluth, MN, and a start to a new shipping season, the German cargo ship Cornelia was served with criminal charges last week for illegally dumping oily water into the Great Lakes.

MST Mineralien Schiffahrt, a German Shipping company, was indicted on allegations that it violated the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. The company faced two accusations: failing to maintain an accurate ship record about oil-contaminated waste, and presenting falsified records to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Associated Press found in court documents that, from February 2015 to October 2015, the company’s ocean-freighter M/V Cornelia was leaking significant amounts of oily wastewater. Prosecutors allege that on at least 10 occasions, the ship’s engineers issued orders to transfer machinery space bilge water from a dirty bilge tank to a clean one – then discharge the oily wastewater overboard.

They claim the chief engineer intentionally failed to record these incidents, giving false impression that the oily wastewater was properly disposed of.

At least one incident is alleged to have occurred around May 2015, when the ship was passing through the Great Lakes.

The Liberia-registered Cornelia was detained outside the Duluth harbour for six weeks at the end of last year, before high-tailing it out of port after clearance. The ship was detained by the Coast Guard for an investigation which was started by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Minnesota on Nov. 9. Crew members were not allowed to leave the ship during that time, and faced much anxiety over financial losses as they sat idle just outside the Duluth Harbor.

The ship was cleared to leave port on Dec. 18th so it could make it through the Welland Canal by closing on Dec. 26, and through the St. Lawrence River locks by closing on Dec. 30.

Photo credit: Kenneth Newhams/Duluth Shipping News via

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